Welcome to part 2 of my ban list changes analysis. In the previous part we looked at the data and found out how Bushiroad came to the decision to make the bans that they did. With this knowledge in hand, let’s take a look at each of the ban list changes individually and how they will affect the current meta.
Why was Cinderella Girls so dominating then? The answer to that is the Trancing Pulse/Power of Smile deck. This deck had everything; an easy early play that heals, a brainstormer that mills 5 cards and searches (allowing you to run through the deck quickly) and a re-stander that, in multiples, could consistently set up a 5 attack turn. Slap on some big power numbers and even more search into the mix and you have an extremely consistent deck with great finishing capabilities. With all this going for it, it is no wonder this deck has seen such high play and lossless victory percentages.
Now Bushiroad did try to hit this deck in the previous ban list by creating a pick 3 between Power of Smile Rin, the Maria Riki clone and Horror Lover Koume. They had hoped that by taking away the ability to easily acquire the level 1 game and the necessary climaxes that it would hinder the deck, but this simply was not the case. As predicted by myself and my fellow team members, the deck still had so much mill and search potential that it could still function perfectly fine; and as the numbers show it clearly did just that.
So by adding the top 4 grab a blue character Rin to the pick list will they sufficiently hinder Power of Smile? I believe so. Remember, Bushiroad’s aim is never to completely nullify a set’s abilities; they just want to reduce the consistency of its dominance. The strength of this deck has always been its potential to burn through the deck and easily piece together the necessary parts. As this Rin does both of those things, by removing it from these decks they should slow down enough that, whilst slightly crippled, are still playable. The deck can still rely on the mill 5 brainstormer to do this job after all. Because of this, I do not expect Power of Smile Rin to completely leave the meta after this alteration. I do however think that its strong appearance rates will see a sizable hit, being replaced by Smiling Uzuki decks. This allows players to continue using a similar end game to what they had been using in Power of Smile, only now they must go to reverse before being able to stand back up. It made a few appearances in WGP 2016 and will be one to watch out for in the coming months.
Onto the next question, why was Monogatari seeing similar decent results? The answer again falls to a pick list that didn’t do enough, but this time it was more that it didn’t predict how the meta would shift. In the previous ban list, a pick 2 was created between Middle Schooler Shinobu and the new level 3 Mayoi. At the time, the combination of these cards were causing decks to have both incredible sustain early, by cheaply bouncing your low cost guys out of harm’s way, and a reliable method of closing out games. It also allowed cards like the level 1 Senjougahara to use her top 4 ability again. The pick 2 was designed to force the choice: either save your guys or reliably end games.
The problem is that the meta has been shifting over the past year towards stock generation and heavy compression decks. This led a lot of Monogatari players, even just before the old ban list was announced, to start generating lots of stock through the Hanekawa 2/2 combo instead. This was not seen as a threat at the time as many high placing decks were still using a combination of the Mayoi, Shinobu and Senjougahara level 3s. As the data shows, this was clearly a mistake. Allow me to layout the roadmap of the Hanekawa deck:
Level 0 – 1
Set up and generate stock. All of your cards have 0 cost and low cost/free effects to run through the deck.
Have 5 experience and generate insane amounts of stock with Hanekawa. Not only does her effect pay for herself, but the climax is a treasure making it incredibly easy to get into your hand. If instant compression wasn’t enough, she is also an easy 9500 base. Combine that with the blanket boosters and you have one tough cookie.
Use all that stock to keep playing the Mayoi level 3. This gives you multiple heals and additional instances of on cancel burn and +1 soul. You can also use the level 0 Shinobu boost to search out Mayoi by just discarding a card. This can be repeated several times very easily, especially if you can deck refresh. You then hit your opponent for massive damage which they either; cancel it and take a bunch of burn damage or just die. Remember this is just a single attack as well; you could easily set up 3 lethal hits with burn by using this on any of your characters. I have seen this happen several times, it is incredibly consistent.
So what the new ban list does is essentially stop this loop entirely. You now have the choice of either compression or the finisher. The reliability of it all is also reduced by taking out the blanket booster/searcher. This deck is pretty unfair to sit against when it is played well, so I am not surprised that it got hit this hard. Monogatari still has other viable options though, so it is still a playable set. Once again, I foresee a decent drop in its participation rate after taking away such a reliable win engine.
Kantai Collection -KanCore-
Kantai is a different story to the previous 2 sets in that it has no singular winning deck. On the whole, the decks varied quite largely in the late game. Some opted for Kashima, others Taihou and even the once meta Akagi Kai was making a lot of appearances. However, all of these decks had 2 things in common: the Inazuma search, Z3 and Z3 Zwei. Between these 3 cards you have a back border that is easy to assemble that throws around a lot of power. You can rest in your turn and hand out a whopping 2500 power and boost your counters by 1000 extra power. Add into that cards like Bismarck that get additional power when you use a start-up effect or Maya Kai 2 that generates extra stock and you have some beefy cards.
This led to some chopping and changing in their pick list. Firstly, adding in Inazuma and Z3 is not only a way to reduce the reliability in the powerful back border pairing, but it also forces those decks playing hate (more Hibiki than Hatsukaze) into dropping that as well. Whilst the hate side of Kantai has not been making many appearances recently, keeping it in the pick list helps continue to keep it out of the picture.
Secondly, Akagi Kai was removed from the ban list. Even though she was seeing a fair bit of play, it was probably deemed too restrictive to have both Z3 and Akagi Kai on the pick list. As I previously mentioned, we are living in an age where compression is king and level 3s have a lot of power at their disposal. This makes the stock dump and low power of Akagi Kai harder to work with than ever before; especially if you can’t play both Akagi Kai and Z3 together. There would be no easy way to help her get over those other high power characters for the clock kick.
Finally, why was Kantai hit at all? The numbers are reliable enough to see that if left untouched, Kantai has the potential to overrun the meta once more. These bans were made as a precautionary measure to give other sets a chance to thrive.
So what effect will this have on Kantai? I foresee most, if not all, decks opting to keep Z3. The power, consistent start-up ability and search effect make her an incredibly valuable level 0. Kantai players will have no issue losing Inazuma. She has been on the pick list and ignored before, so she is not seen as an integral part of the Kantai engine like Z3 is. Kantai will remain competitive and I don’t see its appearance rate dropping any time soon.
The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi
“Wait what? But Haruhi doesn’t appear on either chart? Why did it get a new banned card?”, I hear you say. Well, this ban comes from some ominous foreshadowing on Bushi’s part. This card is a 2/0 event counter that places the opponent’s climax into the waiting room. Bushiroad stated the following regarding the banning of ‘Information Disconnect‘:
“The climax card plays an important role in the concept of Weiss Schwarz to reproduce scenes from each title on the stage. Currently, we are developing cards that make importance use of climax cards beyond the initial release of Weiss Schwarz. Therefore, we decided that it is undesirable to utilise a card that can easily invalidate the effects of a climax card and the linked combo”
They also considered banning the following cards, but compared to ‘Information Disconnect’ they are not as influential and thus remain unbanned:
Conceptually, this makes a lot of sense. For anyone that has played with or against Haruhi, they know the horrors of this counter. Foiling your opponent’s combo or damage progression by removing their climax can really muck up their turn; and it is free. With Haruhi getting a recent buff with a Power Up set this ban was inevitable. As the set will start cropping up in the tournaments to come, this event would have surely been a prominent feature. To prevent this and maintain an environment in which Bushiroad can continue creating climax combos, it will most likely remain on the ban list indefinitely.
Other Sets (Dodging the Ban List)
I have seen a lot of complaints that To Love-Ru and Puyo Puyo have evaded the ban list once again. This is primarily regarding their level 3s; Yami and Arle. The reason that these sets have evaded the ban list is simple, they are just not as strong as other sets nor are they making as many appearances in tournaments. Heck, Puyo doesn’t even appear on either of the charts. The reason for this is that they do not have the consistency or the power of other sets. Sure, these 2 level 3s are incredibly good at closing out games, but what are they doing at level 1? Not a fat lot by comparison to CG, Monogatari and Kantai. I am not saying that these are bad sets; far from it. They play well, have fun strategies and can win their fair share of games. But remember, Bushiroad bans cards to try and keep the game diverse. As of right now, neither of these sets poses any problem to that.
So for those keeping track at home, even though I have been completely hit by the ban hammer I agree with everything that they have done. The sets, or more importantly decks, that have been affected needed to see some form of change to mix up the meta a bit more. Like any other decent TCG developer, Bushiroad tries to aim to be as diverse as possible. Whether this will actually do that or just allow some of the stronger decks to appear from the depths will be seen in the coming months. Either way; Bunny Café, Re Zero and Rewrite are now in interesting positions where they have a chance to rise from the ashes of what may now be left behind.
Thanks for reading and until next time, ta-rah~